There are two kinds of governing. One arises out of love for our neighbor and the other out of love for ourselves. Fundamentally, these two ways of governing are exact opposites. If we govern out of love for our neighbor, we wish good things for everyone. We love nothing more than being helpful and therefore serving others (serving others is doing good and useful things for them because we have goodwill toward them). This is what we love and what delights our hearts. The more we are promoted to higher office the happier we are; but this is not because of the office but because of the greater and higher service we can perform. This is the kind of governing that exists in heaven.
In contrast, if we govern out of love for ourselves, then we wish good things for no one but ourselves and our immediate circle. Any service we perform is to gain respect and glory for ourselves because that is the only outcome we consider useful; as far as we are concerned, the only reason for serving others is to be served and respected and obeyed. We strive for high office not because of the good things we can do but in order to bask in eminence and glory to our hearts’ delight.
The kind of love we had for governing stays with us after our life in this world; but it is those who have governed out of a love for their neighbor who are entrusted with governing in the heavens. In that case, it is not in fact we ourselves who are in control but the good and useful things we do, and when good and useful actions are in control, the Lord is governing. But if in this world we have governed out of love for ourselves, then after our life in this world we are in hell and are lowly slaves.
So these points can help us recognize the characteristics of people who devote their lives to self-love, but this recognition does not depend on how they appear outwardly, whether they come across as proud or submissive. The characteristics mentioned above are in the inner self, and for most people their inner self is hidden away and their outer self is trained to pretend to love the public good and their neighbors—the very opposite of what is inside. This too is for selfish reasons. They know that everyone is deeply moved by examples of a love for the public good and for one’s neighbor and that they themselves will be loved and valued to the extent that they exhibit this love. (The reason everyone is moved by such things is that heaven flows into that kind of love.)
The evils characteristic of people devoted to self-love are, broadly speaking, contempt for others, envy, ill will toward those who do not agree with them, a consequent hostility, and various kinds of hatred, vengefulness, guile, trickery, ruthlessness, and cruelty; and wherever we find these evils we also find a contempt for the Divine and for the truths and the good practices from the Divine that are taught by the church. If such people do pay respect to these things, it is with the mouth only and not with the heart.
Further, since self-love is the source of these evils it is also the source of corresponding falsities, since evils give rise to falsities.
As for love for the world, this is wanting to use any available means to divert others’ resources to ourselves, setting our hearts on wealth, and letting the world distract and seduce us away from the spiritual love that is love for our neighbor, and therefore away from heaven.
If we are obsessed with diverting others’ assets to ourselves by various means, especially if we use guile and trickery to do so, with no regard for our neighbor’s well-being, we have devoted our lives to love for the world. When this is the love we live in, we crave what others have, and to the extent that we do not fear the law or losing our reputation, purely for the sake of our own gain we will deprive them even to the point of taking everything they have.
All the same, love for the world is not so completely opposed to heavenly love as love for ourselves is, because the evils hidden within it are not as horrendous. Love for the world takes many forms. Wealth can be loved as a means of gaining high office; a prominent position or high office can be loved for the wealth it brings; wealth can be loved because it affords us various kinds of pleasure; wealth can even be loved purely for its own sake, which is called miserliness; and so on. The goal for which we seek the wealth is called its use, and the goal or use is what determines what the love is like, since the nature of the love depends on the goal that it seeks. The other factors serve that goal as means.
In a word, love for ourselves and love for the world are exact opposites of love for the Lord and love for our neighbor. Therefore love for ourselves and love for the world are hellish loves. They actually rule in hell, and for us as well they constitute hell. In contrast, love for the Lord and love for our neighbor are heavenly loves. They actually rule in heaven, and for us as well they constitute heaven.
We can see from what has now been said that all our evils are contained in and come from this pair of loves. The evils listed above are basic categories; other evils not listed there are subcategories that derive and flow from them.
This shows that since we are born with these two loves we are born with evils of all kinds.
If we are to know what evil is we need to know where it comes from; and unless we know what evil is we do not know what goodness is and therefore cannot know what we ourselves really are. That is the reason for dealing here with these two sources of evil.
from New Jerusalem, Sections 72-80